Lately, I have been hearing a lot of discussions about hair vitamins. Some women swear by them; while others say that they are just a complete hoax and waste of money. So I decided to take a closer look to see what all the fuss was about.
What Exactly is a Hair Vitamin?
Hair vitamins are basically the same vitamins that are found in most of the regular daily multi-vitamins; however, they have been repackaged to contain only the adequate amount of vitamins that are essential for healthy hair. Having said that, you can continue to take your multi-vitamin as long as it has the recommended daily allowance of the vitamins that affect the hair. So what is the magical potion that leaves your tresses unrecognizably gorgeous? To answer this question, we must first define hair.
Hair-Is More Than What Meets the Eye
I find it interesting that the beautiful tresses found on your head, whether they are long, short, natural, straight, chemically treated, blond, brown, black, red, or grey, are nothing more than a mass of mostly keratin protein. Keratin is the main structural component of not only hair; but, skin and nails as well. This is why hair vitamins are sometimes marketed as a hair, skin, and nails product. The primary reason hair vitamins stimulate growth is because keratin protein is made up of amino acids, which are critical for all life forms. In fact, one of the most important functions of amino acids is to serve as the building blocks of protein. Therefore, anything that aids in the process of creating protein, i.e. certain vitamins and minerals, will ultimately have an impact on your hair depending on the amounts that are present. But, before I talk about which vitamins are a must have for healthy hair and hair growth, I have to give you a little biochemistry lesson on cell biology.
Understanding how Cells Work in our Bodies
To keep this as basic as possible, I will define proteins as the start of all life (this includes hair too) within the body. Each of our cells is made of proteins and each cell has many pathways (metabolic chemical reactions) that occur as they are being built. Think Dallas, Texas highways, roads and streets for those of you who live in the DFW area. Your cells have a maze of pathways that cross and overlap to create the right DNA for building that particular cell. Therefore, you need the proper amount of vitamins and minerals when cells are dividing and multiplying so that they can be built and copied properly. One missing nutrient, can negatively impact the end result and can lead to birth defects (Sorry, I would be remiss if I did not show how serious this could be) and damaged hair, which is the purpose of this article (smile). Now you can see why eating a healthy diet or supplementing with vitamins and mineral leads to overall better health and ultimately, better hair.
The MoJo of Hair Vitamins
The key ingredients contained in most hair vitamins are in the B Complex family along with a few others. Here is what I think is a good list of key hair vitamins:
Vitamin A– Vitamin A is not only a critical vitamin for skin, it’s also a major player for hair growth. The lowest skin layer, the hypodermis is where the hair follicle cells/roots are located. Because vitamin A is responsible for generating growth and repair and making sure that cells (including follicle cells) are programmed properly, it’s a necessary vitamin for hair growth.
Biotin–is known as the “beauty vitamin” because of its incredible effects on hair, skin and nails. Biotin is a major player in making sure that proteins are metabolized in your hair roots and fingernail cells, and since your hair is made up of mostly keratin protein, an abundant amount of protein is critical. Therefore it’s wise to have an adequate amount of biotin because your body will allocate it to the most critical areas first, like your vital organs, and if there is any remaining, your hair just might be lucky to get a little. Side note, ideally your hair vitamin should contain the B-complex vitamin because this family of vitamin B work synergistically to ensure that each B vitamin is metabolized and functioning properly.
Vitamin C-Is an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage in your cells. Note, free radicals occur naturally within your cells during the metabolic process and it occurs when you have been exposed to environmental toxins. Vitamin C is also required for the synthesis of collagen. Without vitamin C, you simply will not have any collagen and you need collagen because it supports and gives structure to everything in the body, including all of the skin layers, which is where hair follicles and your sebaceous glands are housed. A deficiency in vitamin C will not only effect hair growth, but might also lead to dry brittle hair.
Vitamin E-Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that fights against free radical damage in your cells and reduces oxidative stress. While we need to breath in oxygen to live, once it enters our bodies-it could cause severe cell damage. Think Fruits and veggies-it’s the exposure to oxygen that causes them to “go bad” quickly. The same reaction occurs within our bodies, and having vitamin E in your arsenal will stop oxidation in its tracks.
The Final Conclusion
After a close examination, I have concluded that hair vitamins really do promote long, healthy hair. However, keep in mind that not all vitamins are created equally, and to maximize both the health and hair promoting benefits of vitamin supplementation, you should ensure that the vitamins are whole vitamins and not synthetic. Synthetic vitamins are isolated vitamins; whereas in nature, food and vitamins derived from whole foods, contain a complex number of vitamins and minerals working synergistically. Therefore, if you isolate just one of those vitamins, you lose out on the synergistic affect that the isolated vitamin needed to perform its function properly.